True Hollywood Story: Embryo Edition

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Sofia Vergara’s ex fiancé, Nick Loeb, is suing her for the rights to their frozen embryos.

Before the actress and Loeb separated they went through the process of medically creating and freezing embryos with the intention of using a surrogate to bring one or more of those embryos to term.

During this process, the couple decided to split up and a biological child was never brought into the world.

Vergara has since moved on and is now engaged to actor Joe Manganiello. Loeb, on the other hand, has publicly lobbied to regain ownership of the frozen embryos that were created while he was in a relationship with Vergara. He intends on using a surrogate to bring the embryo to term; however, Vergara does not want the embryo to result in a child. According to Loeb:

We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent. The form did not specify–as California law requires–what would happen if we separated. I am asking to have it voided.”

Loeb, creator of the Crunchy Condiment Company, has used his ex-fiance’s notoriety to catapult his own case into the pop-culture stratosphere. His main argument for why he should be allowed the rights to the embryos he made with his ex? Women have the power to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects, so he should be allowed to bring his unborn child into the world and raise it as he sees fit.*

(*Probably a flawed argument, considering most natural pregnancies are not preceded by legally binding contracts.)

But what happens if a couple warring over embryonic rights does not have any star power?

The topic of frozen embryo ownership isn’t just a celebrity issue. In the United States alone, 600,000 eggs are frozen every year. If freezing eggs is such a common practice, shouldn’t contracts regarding legal rights to frozen eggs be pretty standard? In America…not exactly.

Consider our British brothers and sisters who have fairly concrete laws regarding the process of freezing eggs:

In the U.K. for a couple to go through such treatment, they’d have to sign all the consent forms. If the couple split up, if one party withdraws the consent, the other party can’t use it at all.

In other words, if Vergara and Loeb were having this squabble in England, chances are that Loeb’s request to void the contracts would not be granted. Perhaps the realm of embryonic rights would become less of a gray area if the United States were to adopt the U.K.’s policy wherein consent must unequivocally come from both parties.

Corinne Fitamant
Corinne Fitamant is a graduate of Fordham College at Lincoln Center where she received a Bachelors degree in Communications and a minor in Theatre Arts. When she isn’t pondering issues of social justice and/or celebrity culture, she can be found playing the guitar and eating chocolate. Contact Corinne at staff@LawStreetMedia.com.



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